Aug. 21st, 2016

clytemenstra: (Cinema Paradiso)
In the last couple of weeks, I've watched 4 films, and 1 boxset, so here are the reviews...

16. Deutschland 83 (dirs. Edward Berger and Samira Radsi, 2016)

This eight part series is something I wanted to watch in one go - and then being sensible kicked in and I managed to stretch it over 4 days. Unlike the increasingly tiresome The Americans, which boasts stunts and disguises but is light on plot, this German series really does expose how frightening - and dangerous - the early 80s were. A young man in East Germany is smuggled into the West, to act as a mole. What follows is a volatile game of espionage, involving honeytraps, family secrets, and broken loyalties. The acting is superb, as is the script, and the clever use of archive footage really does bring home how the world was teetering on the edge of nuclear annihilation. Highly, highly recommended.

17. Lars and the Real Girl (dir. Craig Gillespie, 2007)

Watched a week ago, on a warm Friday.

Nearly a decade ago this was released? Wow! This is one of Ryan Gosling's early indie films, before he became a huge star, and I never thought I'd think the subject content of this was sweet - but that's what good performances and scripting do. Gosling is the titular Lars, a lonely young man from small town Minnesota, who following a colleague's advice, buys a real life, real size doll - Bianca. At first his neighbours and family are schocked, but under counsel of a wise psychotherapist, excellently played by Patricia Clarkson, the community colludes and leads Lars to a place of more social integration. Its a very sweet film, and lightly played - and there is a happy ending. If you like interesting indie flicks, this is one to check out.

18. Anna Karenina (dir. Joe Wright, 2012)

Watched on the wet Friday just gone.

Trying to cram an 800 page novel into a 2 hour film is ambitious - and despite the beauty of the cinematography and costumes, this doesn't quite work. I found it a bit superficial, as it loses the depth of the novel, and characters which are central are sidelined in favour of it being a love letter to Anna. Keira Knightley is terrific in the titular role, and the conceit of setting it in a theatre, to underline the pomposity and stageiness of imperial Russia is a brilliant idea, but its more a patchwork of set pieces than a cohesive narrative. Still, enjoyable for a wet afternoon.

19. Welcome to Leith (dir. Michael Beach Nichols, 2015)

I watched this documentary last night - and its certainly preyed on my mind. Leith, a tiny hamlet in the wilds of North Dakota, got a shock a few years ago when White supremacist Craig Cobb, a man whose ideas seem to be a xerox of Hitler's, started buying land to house a white supremacist community there. What unfolds is the story of people who are deluded in thinking their ideas will work - but also the delusion of a community who believe that they are insulated from the outside world. The biggest twist is that Leith, a community suffering from social and economic isolation, reject Cobb's ideas, despite the fact that his ideas are most popular in communities like Leith. A strange portrayal of what happens when you blame the wrong people for misfortune, Welcome to Leith is chilling and compulsive viewing.

20. Sensation (Dir. Tom Hall, 2010)

I watched this this afternoon, and its not what I expected. A film about a lonely, recently bereaved, and socially awkward Irish farmer going into business with an attractive Kiwi call girl sounds like a crude sex comedy, and I have no doubt that were this made by an British or USian director, starring the likes of Jonah Hill or Simon Pegg, it would be. But its an Irish film, starring Domnhall Gleeson (which was a pretty key reason for it going on my Cinema Paradiso list) with a cast of relative unknowns - and as such its a pitch black and quite touching film about a lonely man trying to make a connection with someone who shies away from the connection he's trying to make. There are some dark moments in this - the opening scene brings home just how much of an isolated character he is, plus there's a painful scene which reveals his lack of social standing. But there are moments of genuine sweetness, and the ending is somewhat happy. Rather like Secretary and Don Jon,its not for everyone, but if you like stories of redemption, and also, like me, believe there really is someone out there for everyone, try it.


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